Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Walmart, Caesars cut ties with Paula Deen, despite emotional interview on 'Today'

Celebrity chef Paula Deen emerged from "Today Show" hiding on Wednesday, appearing on the show after cancelling an appearance last Friday. The appearance turned emotional, and that was without further bad news for Deen, which came later in the day.

Deen began her interview with Matt Lauer composed and calm. Later, though, she broke down into tears. Despite this, Lauer continued to probe and push.

She said, in defense of revelations of her past use of the n-word,
I believe that every creature on this earth -- every one of God's creatures -- was created equal.
She -- once again -- insisted she is not a racist and that there have been "some very hurtful lies said about me.

When Lauer gave her a tough question, asking if,
[...]given the same circumstances, would you have fired you?
Deen paused for a moment. She responded with the word, "No."

When he went further, asking her -- despite numerous assertions that she has already made -- if she was a racist, she again said no.
It was 30 years ago. I had had a gun put to my head, a shaking gun because the man that had the gun to my head was my customer at the main office.
Deen is referring to the fact that she was once robbed at gunpoint by -- yes, a black man -- to whom she had once issued a loan.

Deen went further, and brought out the Bible, not literally, but metaphorically. She said:
If you’ve never committed a sin, please pick up that rock and pick up that boulder and hit me as hard as you can.
The 13-minute long interview ended with Deen saying:
I is what I is and I'm not changing.
Later on Wednesday, Walmart became the latest and biggest firm to sever ties with the chef. In addition, Deen's name is being stripped from four buffet restaurants owned by Caesars, although the company said that its decision to rebrand its restaurants in Joliet, Ill.; Tunica, Miss.; Cherokee, N.C.; and Elizabether, Ind., was a mutual one, made with Deen.

Last week, the Food Network said that it would not renew the celebrity cook's contract, which expires at the end of this month. On Monday, Smithfield Foods, which sold Paula Deen-branded hams in addition to featuring her as a spokeswoman, said said it was dropping her as a spokeswoman.

Target Corp., which carries Paula Deen-branded products, repeated on Wednesday that it was "evaluating the situation." Considering its rivalry with Walmart, there is a suspicion that Target may follow Walmart's example.

At the same time, though, Deen's representatives continued to attempt to show that some of Deen's backers were still showing support for her. They offered up nine letters showing other companies supporting Deen.

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